Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/352

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profits. To the grain-grower the average loss by it is officially estimated at ten per cent of his gross proceeds. The sacks alone cost me six per cent this year on the gross proceeds of a thousand bushels of the best brewing barley, sold at a price twenty-five per cent higher than that realized by the average grower of the common grades. How much I paid the warehouseman at home, the one in San Francisco, the one in Liverpool, and the brewer, each of whom handled it twice, for the extra work of the sack system over the elevator system, I do not know. They may have done it gratis, but I do not think so. At any rate, long after the system is universally recognized to be a monstrous and unnecessary burden, we shall be held to it by the same cause which binds England to its crude passenger-coach and America to its deadly hand-coupling and brake on its freight trains—the necessity of changing all at once and on so large a scale when the change is made.

But the burden on the almond-grower is trifling—one per cent for sacks in my case—the product being so much more valuable in proportion to bulk. The sack is altogether an advantage. It saves the delicate shell, and furnishes a place for the brand of the orchardist who is proud of his product and wishes to work up a reputation for it, and also for another brand giving the name of the variety contained in each sack.

An important practical question confronting every prospective orchardist is, How soon will my trees come into bearing and pay their own expenses and interest on my investment? In these days of harnessed steam and chained lightning, young America plants for himself and not for his children. Some old men who have tried it a little have come to the conclusion that too much planting for posterity is a mistaken kindness for which posterity, lying in the shade, kicking up its heels and letting its faculties rust for want of planting to do, returns no thanks. The almond is an early bearer. At four years from the seed the orchard of which I am the lessee yielded, at about average prices, about eighty dollars per acre gross—say sixty dollars net. This year at six years old, prices considerably below the average, the gross proceeds will be about one hundred and twenty-five dollars per acre. I do not think any other orchard yielded so much per tree, of the same size; but, on the other hand, these trees are so wide apart (twenty-eight feet) that there are only about half the usual number of trees on an acre. While the trees are small, this tells against the yield per acre, and so in this respect this orchard is probably only a fair example. It was not an exceptionally early bearer. In a general way it may be said that an almond orchard yields as quick returns as an average herd of beef steers, but not as quick as a herd of heifers. And in the mean time the planter